Chiseling Out Your Qi

WHAT IS QI (chi)?

Qi is the vital force and energy within each of our bodies. Although it isn’t something we can physically see, it flows throughout us and makes its presence known by the way we feel on a daily basis. In Chinese medicine, everything goes back to the balancing act of yin and yang, opposites but undoubtedly interdependent of one another. One could arguably say, the most functional relationship in existence. Blood is considered the yin aspect of our being, while Qi is the yang.


Qi is the front line at protecting us from harmful pathogens. It helps us transform every meal and beverage into useable energy and unusable waste. Qi helps hold our body structures in their proper places and raises against gravity’s pull. It’s responsible for warming the body and creating good circulation. Its function is essential in the all the ways it affects our bodies and is constantly working behind the scenes.



  1. Original Qi, or “Yuan Qi” is the vital and as it describes in it’s name, original qi. This is said to be the Qi we are born with and is inherited from our parents. This qi resides in our kidneys, and is the true foundation of the yin and yang within all of us.

  2. Food qi or “Gu qi” has the important action of helping our bodies take that first step in transforming food into useable energy. The spleen plays a vital role in this process, as it’s the first organ presented with the job of processing the energy from the food into sustainable qi and blood for our bodies.

  3. Gathering qi or “Zong Qi” is second hand to previously mentioned “gu qi”. After the spleen obtains the food, one of its main jobs is to then send that newly obtained energy from the food to the lungs where it’s then combined with the air we breathe and given the name “gathering qi.” This type of qi presents in the physical form of our heart and lungs. You can generally have a good sense about the strength of someone’s Gathering Qi by the state of their circulation and strength behind their voice.

  4. Nutritive qi or “Ying Qi” is closest in relation to blood and helps nourish all of our internal organs. Whenever an acupuncture needle is placed in the body, the “ying qi” is activated.

  5. True Qi or “Zhen Qi” originates from the “Gathering qi” which comes from our lungs. It’s the combination of both the “Nutritive Qi” and “Defensive Qi” together, assuming both roles its own.

  6. Defensive Qi or “Wei Qi” circulates throughout our skin and muscles acting as an armor to pathogens and changes in temperature. It helps control and regulate our sweat and determines the strength of our immune system. 

  7. Central qi or “Zhong Qi” is responsible for the actions of the spleen and the stomach. In Chinese medicine, the spleen plays a vital role in digestion and its function to “raise.” When the energy of your spleen in out of harmony, symptoms of “sinking qi” might start to surface. Organ prolapse being the worst of them.

  8. Upright qi or “Zheng Qi” is the umbrella of all the types of qi that help defend the body against pathogens. It’s the group name that includes our “defensive qi”, “nutritive qi”, and “kidney essence.”


Looking at the qualities of all the different types of qi and their functions, you’ll find that they can be translated into the way one feels on a daily basis. If a person has good qi circulation throughout their body they’re naturally going to have sustainable energy, a strong digestive system that can easily process food into vital energy, and a resilient immune system that can fight of pathogens easily.


Depending on each unique person and their disposition, the way to regulate qi can vary. I’m a strong advocate for eating a well balance diet that is adjusted according to the seasons. Staying active is important to keep your body from becoming too stagnant, but its important not to overdo it. Acupuncture can help symptoms related to qi imbalance by working on specific organ systems. Chinese medicine focuses on the root of the issue first and foremost and allows the body to naturally resolve symptoms on its own.